During my youth, most of my days were spent reading about the lives of astronauts, writing NASA requesting documents and pictures, building rockets and participating in any activities associated with space. I remember watching the first shuttle launch of television with my grandmother and recalled the excitement in the air. For me, that first shuttle launch planted a seed, and I made a firm decision to become an astronaut. I wrote a letter to NASA notifying them of-of my intent to become and astronaut, and they were kind enough to send me the qualifications of becoming one.
The Challenger mission was particularly special to me. It was the first time NASA recruited a civilian to join their ranks. The idea of a teacher going into space was an exciting time for space enthusiasts. It made the average person feel as if they had a chance to see the heavens. Unfortunately, the Challenger disaster touched everyone, especially those of us watching it in classrooms across the country. However, their sacrifice did not deter me and others from pursuing their dreams.
The older I became, the more my interest in space grew. One day I was watching television, and I saw a commercial for the new upcoming movie, “Space Camp.” After watching this movie several times, I knew I had to attend. I immediately wrote Space Camp and requested a brochure and more information. What felt like an eternity, I finally got a response. I quickly formulated a plan to approach my parents and grandparents with my dreams of attending Space Camp. Space Camp was an expensive endeavor; so I needed a solid sales pitch. After pitching my proposal, my parents gave me the following choices: a couple of flight lessons, a trombone or Space Camp. Truth be told, I wanted all the above, but I chose the trombone. Space Camp has been on my mind ever since, and I often wondered if I made the right decision.
Thankfully, my relationship with Griots Republic affords me the opportunity to go and shoot some cool things. This time when they asked me to cover Adult Space Camp, I eagerly said “Hell yes!” Although I did have some concerns, I was excited about fulfilling a lifelong dream. I imagined that everyone attending Space Camp was likely having flashbacks days long gone and I wondered if I would be surrounded by a group of overly eager Sheldon like characters from the televisions series Big Bang Theory.
After attending Space Camp, my concerns were unfounded. Space Camp was a fun experience. It gives the attendees an insight into some of the inner workings of NASA, some of the first-hand experiences as NASA astronaut, and the opportunity to converse and form relationships with other NASA enthusiasts. Space Camp gives the average person a way to connect with Space and provides them with a small glimpse of what it is like being an astronaut in space. Furthermore, it also provides you with a profound admiration of the astronauts, mission control, engineers and everyone associated with NASA and the space community.
During my Space Camp experience, I met a professional staff who went out of their way to make your Space Camp Experience out of this world. After completing a few administrative details upon your arrival, you’re quickly immersed into your mission at Space Camp. Much to my surprise, there is always something going on at Space Camp and the training days can last up to 14 hours per day. The only break we had was breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
I was not, however, surprised by the people attending. The average age in my Adult Space Camp group was 37, with the oldest being 67 and the youngest being 18. Their reasons for attending were similar to mine; they’ve always wanted to attend, but for some reason, that dream never materialized. I did not find a Sheldon amongst my group; however, what I did discover was a group of highly educated people who love space. The education level of my group ranged from a college freshman to a Ph.D. in mathematics. Despite their educational backgrounds and occupations, their inner kid came out to play during space camp.
I encourage everyone who can afford Space Camp to attend. Aside from the Adult Space Camp, there are several programs including aviation challenge, robotics academy, and they even have programs that cater to families and corporations. The prices of the Adult Space Camp can range from $550.00 – $650.00 (airfare not included). However, if you’re are into checking things off of your bucket list or gifting yourself experiences that you didn’t have access to as a child, then this is one worth investing into. I will forever remember my Space Camp experiences and cherish the new relationships that formed.